This tutorial highlights the new features of cove.tool's latest Sketchup plugin v.3.0.0 as well as a basic walkthrough of installing the plugin, setting up your model, and exporting to the app.
Sketchup plugin version 3.0.0 Updates!
Compatible with Sketchup 2017 through 2023.
Added export layers:
Outdoor floor objects (for patios, courtyards, and landscaping);
Below grade walls (Conditioned underground spaces, basements);
Parking structures may not count, see why here.
New color assignment to layers for easy distinction between elements
Enhanced and improved element classification for layers
The project list is now in alphabetical order, with the added ability to search
Automated untagged button (important for the assignment of elements)
Height confirmation added to export steps
Energy results snapshot within Sketchup
BEFORE WE BEGIN EXPORTING
A. Download the latest version of the Sketchup Plugin
Locate the latest Sketchup Plugin (v.3.0.0 or later) from the cove.tool App Store. In case you have an older version of the plugin, make sure to first uninstall the plugin before attempting to install the latest version. To uninstall an existing plugin follow these steps:
Launch any SketchUp project. Under the Window tab, locate Extension Manager. Inside the Extension Manager window, navigate to the Manage tab, and below should be listed your previous "Cove.tool SketchUp Extension" plugin. Select Uninstall to delete this version. Once done, proceed to install the latest plugin.
To install the new plugin
Launch SketchUp. Under the Windows tab, locate Extension Manager. At the bottom of the Extension Manager window, will be a bright red button labeled Install Extension. Click it and a file search window will open. Locate the RBZ file from the previous folder location. (image below)
The Extension Manager will then add cove.tool SketchUp Extention to the application list. Make sure the file is enabled in the 2nd tab, Manage.
Once the plugin has been successfully installed, a new toolbar should appear (image below). Selecting the extensions tab > cove.tool should prompt the toolbar to launch. The cove.tool toolbar is 'floating' by default, so if you do not see it right away make sure to check your other screens, or minimize SketchUp to prompt the toolbar. (image below).
If your software installs are typically blocked, you may need to "unblock" the RBZ file in the file explorer before linking to SketchUp. To "unblock" right-click on the RBZ file, select properties, and locate the unblock checkbox (or unlock for Mac's security preferences). Check this article for additional plugin install instructions.
B. Create a new project in cove.tool
Before starting the export process, create a project in cove.tool. If you have not started a project, then the Sketchup Plugin will not have a project location to reference for your geometry export. Start a project, complete the project details page, then click "save and continue". The next step will be the Geometry Page, this is where switch to your SketchUp model.
Project Details Page (above). Geometry Page (below).
C. SketchUp Model-prep Tips
To ensure your export loads quickly and unnecessary elements aren't imported into cove.tool, follow these points:
If your model is dense, copy building geometry to a new SketchUp File
The ideal SketchUp file should only contain the main building's geometry (left-image below). Rendering elements, structural elements, site elements are typically not needed for cove.tool analysis and will slow down your results or cause inaccuracies. If you have building context you would like to see imported for the daylight analysis then that may also be copied to the newly created file.
Locate your building near the SketchUp origin axis (coordinates: 0,0,0)
Make sure the project is located near the origin point (center-image below). Placing your geometry here will ensure your building will accurately display once inside cove.tool. Also, elevation placement is important; have your ground floor level lines up with the 0'-0'' elevation. cove.tool's geolocation will handle the rest.
START THE EXPORT STEPS
1. Login to your profile
Sign in to your cove.tool account by selecting the Update Login button, use the same login credentials you use to log into cove.tool.
2. Select Project
Next, choose your project via the Select Project button. This will open a window with your project list. Scroll to find your cove.tool project. Note that the list is in alphabetical order and can be searched by typing.
If you have a mixed-use project, then try to follow the display order of cove.tool for your export procedure. Once you have selected a project, that selected project will be the receiver of all the geometry information. If your project list does not have the project you are looking for, check that you have the project in your cove.tool account in a web browser, or that you have clicked "save and continue" and are now on a geometry page in your cove.tool project.
3. Explode all Grouped Objects in your File
Using the bomb icon button in the cove.tool' tool bar, use your mouse to highlight all of your building geometry except for the furniture elements and click the explode button to un-group and simplify everything in view to single-surface objects. This is the category necessary for a geometry export. Grouped objects (except for furniture), and geometry with model thickness (six-surface polygons) will not be exported into cove.tool. Check out this article on the topic.
Note: If it's a complex model with thickness. Do not use the explode button for the entire model at once. Explode groups in steps. Put them in their respective cove.tool layers, then explode. That would be the recommended workflow.
4. Click on the "Move to Untagged" icon to move all the visible geometry to Untagged, and create an active layer.
Placing all building geometry in Untagged (default SketchUp layer/tag) will be crucial for using the tools in the cove.tool toolbar. Only objects located in this layer will be filtered out into the different cove.tool export categories. Also, create another layer that you will set as the active layer (pencil icon) throughout the entire export process. This will become very useful while toggling visibility for quick geometry spot-checks.
5. Create cove.tool layers
Now that the model is ready, click the create cove.tool layers button. 11 new layers will appear at the bottom of the layers/tags menu. Makes sure all the objects have been sent to their correct category. A misplaced object can be normally swapped between layers, so make sure this is done before exporting your geometry to cove.tool. Misplaced objects are the #1 cause of inaccuracy in the plugin.
6. Check for flipped-face geometry
Using the flip-face button, this tool will activate a custom view style which will apply a high-contrast material property to all the front and back face building geometry in the SketchUp window. White surfaces represent front-facing planes and green surfaces represent back-facing planes. It is crucial to have the following: exterior walls and windows displaying front-facing surfaces outwards, roof geometry have their front planes facing upwards while floors have their front planes facing downwards. This step ensures all of your building components are imported with accurate cardinal directions, i.e. that your building geometry falls into the correct orientation (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW). Once everything is correctly oriented, you are ready to export your building geometry.
7. Export your Building Geometry
The cove.tool project is now ready for export. Using the export button (upload to cloud icon) export all the building areas to the cove.tool page. The first dialogue box will show the height of the building. Feel free to change it if it's incorrect. Click on Export. If you are unable to export and receive an error, "Undefined Method: ...NilClass" check out this article for troubleshooting the export button.
8. Get the energy results within Sketchup
You will be shown the EUI as well as a breakdown of the EUI in terms of lighting, cooling, heating, equipment, fans, and pumps for you to quickly assess the results even before hopping on to the platform. You can hover over the graph to see different categories.
Note: The results shown in the graph within Sketchup are always metric, so you must visit the web app to look into the results in imperial units.
9. Refresh the Geometry page and go to cove.tool
Next, you will navigate to the cove.tool geometry page in a web browser, here you will refresh the page and see the building import. If you notice some of the information does not look accurate, flip back to SketchUp and double-check your model’s measurements. Likely there might be an object that is mis-assigned to a layer and has added up to a calculation in the wrong category. Once everything looks good, click continue to save the geometry export and move forward to the daylight page.